June 11, 2012
MacTavish returns to Oilers
By DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - It’s once an Oiler, once again an Oiler for Craig MacTavish.
The former Oilers head coach, who departed after the 2008-2009 season, has been rehired by the organization as the senior vice president of hockey operations.
“We’ve talked about growing our management team to the elite levels that we hope our players will be, that part of our organization is going through transition also,” said Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini. “We knew, Kevin (Lowe) and I, that we needed to add another person to our management team. We feel we just didn’t add just another voice but a voice that has this type of pedigree, experience and feel for what this market brings. ”
MacTavish will be involved in all facets with the organization.
He will have input in who the next head coach will be and who the team should select with the first overall pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
MacTavish is also expected to work closely with the Oilers scouting staff both at the pro and amateur levels.
“I appreciate the opportunity and the confidence the organization has shown in me repeatedly,” said MacTavish. “I’ve had with Steve and Kevin, many of these conversations virtually since I left about coming back.
“The (coaching) job interviews I have over the last three years, the question has always been, ‘How do you see yourself fitting into this organization? We always view you as an Oiler.’
“I didn’t say that at the time when I was trying to land the job, but I very much felt that way.”
MacTavish joins the Oilers after spending last season in the American Hockey League behind the Chicago Wolves bench.
He guided the Vancouver Canucks affiliate to a 42-27-2 record this past season. The Wolves finished third in the Eastern Conference standings, then lost to the San Antonio Rampage in the first round of the AHL playoffs.
MacTavish, 53, began his career with the Oilers as a player, spending the better part of eight seasons with the club. The former Oilers captain moved on to take a coaching position after his playing career came to an end.
In eight seasons behind the Oilers bench, MacTavish compiled a record of 301-252-103. His best achievement was leading the Oilers to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final in 2006 where they fell to the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I think you’re always evolving and learning in the game,” said MacTavish. “My philosophy as a coach is going to be very similar to my philosophy in management: try and do what you can do to improve your team.
“You try to come up with a system that best highlights your skill set as a group. Obviously the skill set with this group has evolved a considerable distance since I was here three years ago.”
After MacTavish was relieved of his duties following the 2008-2009 season, the third consecutive year the club missed the playoffs, he went on to work as an analyst for TSN and also earned a master’s degree in business from Queen’s University.
He was hired by the Canucks to coach their AHL franchise last summer.
Joining the Oilers management side, he temporarily gives up his coaching aspirations.
“It was a highly enjoyful year for me last year, I liked it,” MacTavish said. “But I missed the drama that was the NHL, that’s where everybody wants to be.
“At my age it’s time to stop packing the suitcase every September and get a little more stability in the situation and obviously this is a great opportunity.”