April 11, 2012
Oilers want to see Renney's plan
By ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oilers weren’t going to win the draft lottery on Tuesday and fire their coach on Wednesday — their parades have been rained on enough the last few years without seeding the clouds themselves.
But it was hardly a ringing endorsement for Tom Renney’s future when GM Steve Tambellini made his post-season state of the union address at Rexall Place Wednesday.
Tambellini said Renney will have to essentially re-apply for his job. He didn’t say if the Oilers will be looking at other resumes, as well, only that Renney has to table a strategy for the hockey club moving forward, and they’ll make their decision based largely on that.
“As a manager you need people to articulate a plan to you, also,” said Tambellini. “OK, we went through these couple of years here, but now, as a coach, what is your plan to make this better? How do we maximize Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the next couple of years, how do we get Ales Hemsky back to the statistical levels where he thinks he can be and where we think he can be?
“How do we get Ryan Whitney back to a spot where he’s showing more dominance on the ice? How do we make sure that we’re giving up less goals? Our penalty killing was 29th last year, it finished 14th, how do we get into the top five?
“All those things, the details, you need those. It’s not just I like him or not. You need to see what the plan is.”
And what does Tambellini want from his 2012-13 head coach?
“That’s what we’re going to think about over the next some time,” he said.
The fact they’re thinking about it means they’re thinking about it … that the Oilers might have their fourth coach in five years?
“I didn’t say that,” said Tambellini. “I just said I’m going to give time for Tom to articulate a plan for me going forward. I need him to refresh, get some energy back and talk about his staff, where the strengths are, where the weaknesses are, how do we get better. And then we can go and make decisions.”
Renney was an assistant coach on a team that finished 30th and head coach on a team that was 29th, so it’s all kinds of reasonable to explore options.
But grading his season depends on which scale you choose.
When it came to developing the precious youth of this team, there is no question Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle are better players for the year that was.
But the team finished 29th.
How will Tambellini judge his work?
“That’s why we need time to step back. I know Tom is going to have a lot to say to me. I want to hear what he has to say and how we get to that next step, how do we make people better, how do we compete for a playoff spot next year.
“People are fatigued at the end of the season, mentally. He needs time and I need time. I need time to let him prepare and let myself think about the whole organization going forward.”
Tambellini didn’t provide a timetable for how long they plan to leave Renney twisting in the wind, but the GM is leaving for the Under 18 Championships and then the World Championships in Europe, which aren’t over until May 20. He doesn’t hurry into anything, so don’t expect a quick resolution.
Waiting also buys them time to see which other coaches might become available in the next few weeks, while still keeping Renney on the hook as a backup plan.
“I told Tom he needs to go away for a few weeks and rest,” said Tambellini. “I think it’s time to think about the season, think about the things we did well, think about the things that we could do better, and we’re going to discuss all those things.
“(Renney) knows that and he’s comfortable with that.”
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