Oilers assistant GM gracious after firing

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:34 PM ET

EDMONTON - Kevin Prendergast considers himself fortunate, even though he was fired on Wednesday.

The Edmonton Oilers' former assistant general manager spent 20 years with the organization before being relieved of his duties by GM Steve Tambellini.

ďIím a lucky guy, I have no complaints,Ē Prendergast said on Thursday.

ďThere are not many people that can say that theyíve been with the same team for 20 years. Iíve been in hockey for 28 years now and itís the first time Iíve been fired, Iíll live with it. Itís unfortunate. I know we worked hard at it and it wasnít the end result that we wanted.

ďBut Iíve enjoyed it, Iíve worked with some great people in Edmonton, Iíve learned a lot. This is my home and the opportunity to work with guys like Glen Sather and Bruce MacGregor, Barry Fraser, Kevin Lowe, Scott Howson and Ricky Olczyk, Iíve learned from all these guys,. Theyíre class people. Itís been great.Ē

Prendergast joined the organization in 1990 hired on as vice president of hockey operations. He was responsible for the teamís scouting staff and minor league affiliates.

This season, the Oilers AHL team in Springfield struggled, finishing last in the league standings. The Falcons' woes coincided with the Oilers' troubles as half of the farm team was called up to play in the NHL this season.

It was a tough year for the entire organization, right on down to their junior hockey team. Tambellini vowed changes and itís obvious he wasnít just talking about player personnel letting go of one of the team's longest-serving staff members.

During the season, Prendergast could sense things might end well for him.

ďItís been one of those years. Being in the business for as long as Iíve been in it, you get a feeling for something,Ē he said. ďYou hope itís not true, but you get that feeling. You do your job to the best of your ability and even though you think youíre ready for it, youíre never ready for it.

But itís over with now and Iíll move on.Ē

Not certain about his future, Prendergast most certainly will end up with another organization.

Prior to joining the Oilers, he worked with NHL central scouting for seven years as an assistant director. He also worked with the Canadian National team in preparation for the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Having been responsible for the Oilers' draft picks since 2001, Prendergast brought in a number of quality players to the organization, starting with Ales Hemsky.

In 2002, the Oilers may have missed with Jesse Niinimaki with the first pick, but did select Jeff Deslauriers, Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene in the subsequent rounds.

Prendergast is also responsible for the next wave of players such as Jordan Eberle, Riley Nash, Linus Omark, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Anton Lander.

Devan Dubnyk, Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Taylor Chorney and Theo Peckham are also Oilers draft picks.

This year, however, Prendergast wonít be at the draft table in Los Angeles when the Oilers choose between Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin with the first overall pick.

ďWe made some mistakes, I know that. You get them right sometimes, sometimes you get them wrong,Ē Prendergast said. ďThe one that stings is Niinimaki because I think we knew going into it that it was going to be a home run or a strike out and it was a strike out. Unfortunately it didnít work out. But I think we made up for it in a lot of cases with our second, third and fourth-round picks.Ē

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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