Tom Renney may be coaching from the edge of a cliff, but the Edmonton Oilers skipper is squarely focused on the task at hand.
Renney and the rest of the Oilers coaching staff are in their last year of their contract, which after Thursday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens amounts to 15 games.
They’ve yet to be offered extensions.
“I’m good with it, that’s life,” said Renney prior to the contest. “You just do your best. I have to say the circumstances around the Oilers are a little different than they were in the past. We’re rebuilding and it’s good for everybody.”
Renney said he has been in this situation before, trying to close out a season, not knowing whether he’ll be back the following year.
“That went really well,” Renney smiled. “Toodaloo.”
“The bottom line is this team has to keep improving. As it should be, it should all be evaluated at the end of the year. I don’t have a problem with that. We’ll discuss my body of work at the end of the year.”
Renney is in the third and final year of his contract, having started as an associate coach to Pat Quinn after general manager Steve Tambellini fired Craig MacTavish.
Renney says he hasn’t had discussions with Tambellini about his contract as the season winds down.
“He doesn’t need me to be in his kitchen about that,” Renney said. “We had a good discussion last summer. We are pointed in the right direct, we’re going to finish things up the best we can and then evaluate it, as we should.”
Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov has yet to play a game this season, but hopes to be able to play before the campaign comes to an end.
Markov has missed the entire year after suffering a knee injury last season, but is back skating with the team.
“You never know when I can come back,” Markov said. “Today I feel better than yesterday and I’m pretty close.”
Markov was hurt in November, 2010 in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s been trying to work his way back in the lineup since.
“I have to try and stay positive, try to concentrate on my rehab and keep working hard,” he said. “I miss the game and I can’t wait to get there and play the game. But, you have to take it step by step. As soon as it’s going to be ready, I’m going to play.”
Prior to coming to Edmonton, Rene Bourque had a homecoming of sorts, going to Calgary to play the Flames Tuesday.
It was Bourque’s first time back in Calgary since being traded to the Canadiens in a deal that saw Mike Cammalleri go the other way.
“It was fine, it was a good chance to see a lot of people that I haven’t seen in a couple of months,” Bourque said. “It was nice to say hi and see some familiar faces.”
Having played for the Flames, Bourque was well aware of the scrutiny associated with playing in a Canadian market.
But heading to Montreal, the Lac La Biche products admits it’s now at a different level.
“It’s everything you can imagine,” he said. “Getting a chance to put on that jersey with all that history, and getting a chance to play in the Bell Centre in front of the home fans is great. The fans are crazy, they’re really passionate and it something when you grow up you’d love to get the chance to play there at least one and I get a chance to do that.
“I’m still getting to know the city, you have to find you’re way around, but that’s the fun part about it.”
It has been a tough season for Oilers winger Linus Omark, but he’s trying to keep a positive outlook.
On Thursday, Omark scored his first goal for the Oilers, having been recalled earlier in the week from the team’s AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.
Omark was sent down early in the season, and then broke his ankle, which kept him out of the lineup for nearly three months.
“It’s been tough, I’ve never been hurt before so sitting out for three months was tough,” Omark said. “But I’m back now and I’m positive and I want to look forward instead of backwards.”
Against the Canadiens, the Swedish native played on a line with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky. He scored the Oilers tying goal on a long wrist-shot, which eluded Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj.
“I want to just play my game,” Omark said. “There are not that many games left in the season, I just want to play my best and hopefully I can do some damage out there.”