May 17, 2012
Oilers cut ties with RenneyCoached Edmonton for two seasons
By DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oilers made him wait, then ended up cutting their head coach loose anyway.
The feet dragged throughout the process were the same ones used to kick Tom Renney out the door Thursday, as the Oilers parted ways with their 10th head coach in franchise history.
“We spoke at the year-end that there were some positive things that have happened with the hockey club in a lot of different aspects statistically,” said Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini. “But we want to prepare us going into a phase here where we need to get to a different level of compete — a level of competing for playoff spots.
“We’ve had some young people that have been here for a couple of years now, we’ve had some veterans that have underachieved, for whatever reason, and expectations will increase, as they should.”
Tambellini flew to Renney’s off-season home to Castlegar, B.C., earlier in the day to break the news personally.
When contacted, Renney said he would not make public statements on the decision until after the long weekend.
“I met with Tom and discussed his time here with us, thanked him for his passionate work ethic that he possessed here, but also informed him that we would not be renewing his contract,” Tambellini said. “Tom is a person that is a legitimate head coach in the National Hockey League, and I'm sure he'll work again as a head coach real soon.”
Renney had been sitting in limbo, uncertain about his future with the team since the Oilers season came to an end in early April.
He was asked to take some time off and step away from the game before the two sides would reconvene to talk about the next step.
“You want to make sure decisions aren't made from an emotional standpoint, but from a well thought out plan,” Tambellini said.
“We wanted to make sure that we had assessed all areas before we made a decision such as this. That's the reason we took some time to make this decision.”
Renney was hired by the Oilers as an associate to Pat Quinn prior to the 2009-10 season, then took over the head coaching duties the following year.
The Oilers finished last in the overall league standings for the second-consecutive year under Renney in 2010-2011.
They finished in 29th spot this past season.
Overall, Renney amassed a 57-85-22 record with the Oilers. He was able to win seven more games this season than he had in his first year behind the bench, and saw a great improvement in the club’s special team game. However, the team fell short of expectations of challenging for a playoff spot and were out of the post-season race by January.
“We went through a difficult phase through this rebuild,” Tambellini said. “We’ve seen a lot of people in the last year and a half be put in positions that we, maybe from a lack of experience, saw some mistakes, although there were some great things, too.
“But we think a transition, soon will see us go through a new phase with our hockey club.”
Despite Renney’s departure, a decision has not yet been made on the rest of the team’s coaching staff. That will be contingent on who the Oilers bring in to take over the head coaching duties.
“They’re all quality people and quality coaches,” Tambellini said. “I think it would be fair to whoever takes over as the lead guy to make sure that he has an opinion before doing something. They’re all qualified people.”
The Oilers hope to have a head coach in place by the NHL Entry Draft on June 22-23 in Pittsburgh.
The list of possible candidates includes former Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish and recently departed Calgary Flames skipper Brent Sutter, who was in charge of Canada’s entry at this year’s World Hockey Championships.
"There's a few people that we have interest in," said Tambellini. "I don't know when that will be, I would hope to have someone in place by the draft or around the draft. If it's sooner, great, if not, then that's OK. We just want to make sure we have the right person."