January 24, 2012
Future with Oilers doesn't obsess Renney
By ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - With five wins in 25 games and just a few months left on his contract, it’s been obvious for weeks that Tom Renney is on the hot seat.
But not so obvious that it enters into his daily thinking.
“I’m not worried about that,” said the Oilers coach. “I can’t be. I’m not one of those guys to dwell on my own circumstances or put it in the forefront or worry about it so it gets in the way of my job. I think that’s counterproductive.
“I’m going to do my job, I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’ll just keep going until somebody says OK, hand in the keys.”
The record is pretty grim, but on a rebuilding team decimated by injury, he says his performance shouldn’t be judged entirely on wins and losses.
“You always hope that the commitment you give your players is reciprocated,” said Renney. “Day in and day out as a coaching staff we lay it on the line, we work our butts off and all you can ask them for is to reciprocate that. And I think this team does that. It might not look like it in the results, but in terms of effort, outside of a handful of games, they’ve done that.
“You have to measure anybody’s coaching success through that as much as anything, especially when you’re having tough times.”
YOU CALL THAT A SLUMP?
One team’s slump is another team’s streak.
The Edmonton Oilers would kill for San Jose’s record over the last six games (3-3), but it’s cause for alarm in San Jose.
“It’s funny how things get spun around,” said defenceman Dan Boyle. “Five games ago we had one of the best records in the league.”
They still do, but losing three of four games before arriving in Edmonton has everyone asking “What’s wrong?”
There’s no panic, though. Having gone deep in the playoffs — just not deep enough — several years in a row, the Sharks have come to realize that championships are not won in January.
“What’s important is that we don’t open up the newspaper and look at where we stand,” said head coach Todd McClellan. “But that we open up our play book and look at how we’re playing. That’s the most important thing.”
When a team is struggling badly and small up front, like the Oilers, the door is wide open for a 215-pound winger with half-decent hands … if he wants it badly enough.
And Teemu Hartikainen says he does.
“Yeah, of course,” he said. “If you can shine over here, show good things and help the team win the games, that’s a plus for you. You can take a spot. It’s an opportunity for me
“I want to bring more physical stuff, go hard to the net, simple things. The kind of things I did last year when I played here.”
It might make sense to keep him here for the rest of the season, give him a chance to grow now that the season is lost, but Renney says the team will play it by ear.
“We’re going to give him an opportunity to play a couple of games here,” said the coach. “He’s certainly one of those guys who’s symbolic of our future, the type of people we have to have in our lineup to establish any type of presence.”
Lennart Petrell, part of the Oklahoma City Airlift, is back for his second tour with the Oilers. He admits going from a first-place team in the AHL to a last-place team in the NHL is a shock on a lot of different levels.
“I’m happy to be back here, but the team is struggling a bit, so kind of mixed feelings,” he said, adding he wants to make the most of this stretch. “I need to work harder … obviously the whole team needs to work harder to get the points we need.”
Renney made Ben Eager a healthy scratch against his old team, a humbling decision for any player.
“There are just some parts of his game that he has to improve on,” said Renney.
Eager has five goals this season, as many or more than several players playing ahead of him in the lineup, but he still takes too many shifts, and games, off. He’s a guy who needs to be finishing every check, regardless of how many minutes he’s getting a night.
Remember at the start of the year, when guys named Ryan seemed to be scoring every single Oilers goal? Well, Smyth has one in 10 games, Jones has none in 12 and Nugent-Hopkins and Whitney are out with injuries. With two assists in 12 games heading into Monday night, Jones is bone dry right now. He’s trying, but not accomplishing much.
“Good intentions? There’s not a player on the ice who doesn’t have those,” said Renney. “But there is a point where execution is critical. And engaging yourself physically is important. Ryan has to look for consistency in those two areas.”