SUN Hockey Pool

Renney: Oilers on road to become champs

Former Edmonton Oilers head coach Tom Renney speaks to the press at Rexall Place in Edmonton. CODIE...

Former Edmonton Oilers head coach Tom Renney speaks to the press at Rexall Place in Edmonton. CODIE MCLACHLAN/QMI AGENCY)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 12:24 PM ET

A class act to the end, Tom Renney is leaving the Edmonton Oilers organization with his head held high.

The former Oilers coach addressed the local media for a final time Wednesday, less than a week after the organization announced they would not be renewing his contract.

“My reaction to not coming back was obviously one of real disappointment to say the least,” said Renney. “When you’re in the front end of a building process you don’t like to be the guy that’s leaving before you even get to the middle. The fact of the matter is, that’s where I think they are.”

Renney was brought on three seasons ago as an associate to Pat Quinn. He took over the head coaching reins a year later as the organization decided to clean house and begin a rebuilding phase.

In his two years as head coach during that phase, the Oilers finished 30th and 29th in the league standings.

“I think this is the process to becoming a champion,” Renney said. “It’s just very disappointing not be here to continue to execute that plan and be here to support people in order to make that happen.

“But I’m not here to throw daggers, I’m here to support this organization all the way to the Stanley Cup. If that’s from a distance, having been a former coach, I’m good with that too. As they say, a clear conscience is a soft pillow.”

In his two seasons as head coach, Renney amassed a 57-85-22 record with the Oilers. He was able to win seven more games this season than he did in his first year behind the bench, yet the club fell short of its initial goal of challenging for a playoff spot.

“I’m not going to stand up here and tell you I thought I did a bad job,” Renney said. “We were one or two injuries away from being competitive every night.

“That also is part of this process. I know ownership and management are working hard to shore up that end of the business. I know Oklahoma City has had a terrific year, let’s hope it continues. We have some great, young players, playing amateur hockey that will play for the Oilers that will bring it along even further.”

Unfortunately for Renney, he inherited a club that had hit rock bottom under Quinn and began to sell off what few assets they had to start building through the draft. It’s similar position to those taking over expansion teams.

Those coaches do not last long either.

“I feel a little bit like that,” Renney said. “I felt like I coached with actually tomorrow in mind as opposed to  today and that might have hurt me. I really had a vision for the team, and I felt at the expense of my opportunity or existence, I made some decisions that suggest you have to do certain things that will help you down the road. Some could argue whether that’s right, but that was the mandate for me.”

Looking back on his tenure with the Oilers, there are few things Renney would change had he an opportunity to do it again.

He was brought in to see the team through the initial stages of the rebuilding process and guide their young talents.

“I would have liked not to have gotten that puck in the head in Toronto,” Renney smiled. “I would have liked not to have fallen on the grass at the lake last summer and destroyed my knee.

“But in retrospect, I have been everything I am — this is it. If it works for you great, if it doesn’t fine, I’ll be respectful and move out of the way.”

Despite being under contract until the end of June, Renney is free to pursue other coaching opportunities.

He has had initial conversations with NHL clubs currently in the market for a head coach.

“I look forward to coaching again, I look forward to coaching in the playoffs, I look forward to winning a Stanley Cup because I like winning as much as the next guy,” Renney said. “I look forward to the next opportunity to take a team into the playoffs and do some special things in them based on experiences such as this.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

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