Oilers hire triple-threat in MacTavish
TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - Did the Edmonton Oilers hire a fox to reside in their own hen house?
Did Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini potentially hire their own replacements with the appointment of Craig MacTavish as senior VP of hockey operations? Is MacTavish also a built-in coach-in-waiting, much like he was for the Vancouver Canucks in case Alain Vigneault needed to be replaced?
Is Craig MacTavish a triple threat?
It’s a tantalizing, titillating hire which has the potential to be a juicy move in every direction going forward. But, because of all those possibilities, it’s also a fascinating, total positive, possibly vitally important move for the present.
The Edmonton Oilers just became a much more complete organization in all those different directions by bringing the bright 53-year-old hockey mind back into their midst, where he played 10 years and coached for nine, a guy who can be hands-on in just about every area of the organization.
Maybe there’s a bit of a thought there somewhere that MacTavish could be a GM in training, but for the short term the main idea is to use MacTavish to make Tambellini a better GM, especially on the pro-player side of the organization where his record has been abysmal, compared to the excellent job he’s on the drafting and development side.
MacTavish can be an asset dealing with development in the AHL, where he just spent the past year coaching the Chicago Wolves. And it’s a job that gives MacTavish a chance to use the masters degree in business he earned from Queen’s University after departing the Oilers organization following the 2008-09 season.
Certainly it would make sense to have him involved in the hiring of the next coach. He became only the 36th coach in NHL history to win 300-or-more games in his time here and 41st in games coached.
Tambellini and MacTavish met with the media six hours after the Oilers made the announcement on their Twitter site and the two left no need to ask who was going to be higher up the management model.
They used the Dave Nonis-to-Brian Burke example in Toronto as the comparison for MacTavish’s relationship to Tambellini.
Asked about getting fired as coach by Tambelini three years ago, MacTavish briefly had fun with it.
“I can’t remember, Tamby? …”
The GM’s face appeared to turn a tad red but it may have been sunburn.
“It was a mutual decision in that back room,” MacTavish said. “It was mutually agreed it would be the best thing.”
In one breath MacTavish said this telegraphs the end of his coaching career but in another he said you never know.
“Sitting here right now I think I’m done with that … but who knows, in this game? It’s a crazy game. I can’t predict I’ll never coach again.”
As for how he sees his role, MacTavish suggested he’s in Phase I of his organizational management role development.
“I think I’m just going to be another voice, another opinion to these conversations. I think the best strategy for me going forward is to observe and add an opinion in the first little while and get my feet wet.”
MacTavish said he felt his time getting his masters degree, coaching Canada at a world championships and the Wolves in the AHL was “time well spent” for the job ahead.
One thing he believed he could testify having spent the year in the AHL is that the development system Tambelllini created “gives the Oilers probably the best development model in hockey.
“I see a dynamic situation here. With a new rink on the horizon, there is probably not a more dynamic situation — not that I can see. It’s a very interesting time to get back involved with the Oilers,” said MacTavish.
“The franchise is in so much better shape than when I was here three years ago, with the changes in personnel and quality of player we have now,” noting “there are a lot more cameras here when I was walking out the door than when I was walking back in the door.”
“Maybe the Oilers are as exciting a franchise as there is going forward.”
Asked if the decisions will be made on a two-out-of-three voting system in the new triumvirate, MacTavish laughed.
“I think it will work like it did with my three assistant coaches. They each got a vote and I got four.”
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