When you hold the 29th worst record in the regular season, you know your team is in a rebuilding stage. The Edmonton Oilers made another statement going forward, deciding not to renew head Coach Tom Renney’s contract. The announcement was made Thursday night via the Edmonton Oilers website.
Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini released a brief statement prior to his press conference with the media on the organization’s decision to go in another direction. “We traveled to British Columbia to meet with Tom, met with him for a couple hours and obviously informed him that we would not be renewing his contract. Tom’s done some great things for our hockey club.”
Tambellini decided that change was needed for the Oilers. “We’re entering a new phase of our hockey club. We’ve got some great challenges, but ones that we’re looking forward to. I want to thank Tom for his work that he’s done with us.” The Oilers General Manager included he would look forward to working with him again possibly in the future. “I hope I get a chance again one day to work with him.”
The Oilers then held a short press conference regarding their decision. Tambellini was positive that Renney would find work as a head coach in the NHL in the near future. “Tom is obviously a person that is a legitimate head coach in the national league and I’m sure he’ll work as a head coach soon.”
Tambellini regarded the decision as changing the hockey club along with the competitiveness of the entire Oilers organization. “There’s been some positive things that have happened with the hockey club and a lot of different aspects statistically from special teams and such, but we just want to prepare us going into a phase where we need to get to a different level of compete. A different level of completing for playoff spots, we’ve had some young people that have been here for a couple years, we’ve had some veterans here that have underachieved for whatever reason and expectations will increase as they should.”
Tambellini emphasized the need for the organization to improve across the board. “We need to get better as an organization, we need to get better as a management staff, we need to getter better as a coaching staff and we need to get better as players.”
When asked about possible free agents coming to Edmonton, Tambellini stated that their younger players need to develop in order to attract potential signees. “The important fact is unless we are able to develop the young players first and develop that core, that can take us that can attract and people can see the success that we have from within first. Then you shouldn’t be only reliant on free agency to make your team better. Yes, we hope to possibly help our team in a few specific areas.”
When asked about a possible new coach, Tambellini said there are a few names out there and they would like to name one before the entry draft in June. “There’s a few people that we have interest in. I don’t know when that will be. I would hope to have something prior to the draft in place, if its sooner great, if not that’s okay. We just want to make sure we get the right person.”
Tambellini talked about the young core Edmonton has, but needs to be more consistent. “It’s about recognizing that we’ve got some young people that have been there for a couple years. We watched people play in the World Championships that have had some good success as young people. We’re starting to get to a spot where they’re expectations should be higher too. We expect better performances from a player like Ales Hemsky on a more consistent basis. We expect better goaltending on a consistent basis form Devan [Dubnyk] and Nick [Nikolai Khabibulin].”
Tambellini was asked if Brent Sutter could be a possibility as the next head coach. “As far as guys who are candidates out there, there’s going to be a lot of speculation. “Brent, he’s a good coach, there’s no question about that, but let us go through the process and just get it right.”
This is the beginning of what should be an offseason full of change for the Oilers who despite a roster full of young and talented players, still have a long way to go before returning to contention.