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.
“I’m a lucky guy, I have no complaints,” Prendergast said on Thursday.
“There are not many people that can say that they’ve been with the same team for 20 years. I’ve been in hockey for 28 years now and it’s the first time I’ve been fired, I’ll live with it. It’s unfortunate. I know we worked hard at it and it wasn’t the end result that we wanted.
“But I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve worked with some great people in Edmonton, I’ve 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, I’ve learned from all these guys,. They’re class people. It’s been great.”
Prendergast joined the organization in 1990 hired on as vice president of hockey operations. He was responsible for the team’s 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 it’s obvious he wasn’t 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.
“It’s been one of those years. Being in the business for as long as I’ve been in it, you get a feeling for something,” he said. “You hope it’s not true, but you get that feeling. You do your job to the best of your ability and even though you think you’re ready for it, you’re never ready for it.
But it’s over with now and I’ll move on.”
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 won’t be at the draft table in Los Angeles when the Oilers choose between Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin with the first overall pick.
“We made some mistakes, I know that. You get them right sometimes, sometimes you get them wrong,” Prendergast said. “The 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 didn’t work out. But I think we made up for it in a lot of cases with our second, third and fourth-round picks.”