As announced via the Oilers twitter feed, Steve Tambellini said that Tom Renney will not have his contract renewed with the Oilers going forward after this season. I am of mixed feelings when I think about this. On one hand I believe that Renney was doing some good, particularly with our younger players managing their ice time well despite criticism that they should be playing more. On the other hand he had some blunders this season too, particularly when it came to the ice time for some of our defensive players and who was starting in net for the Oilers.
Let’s look at the good first shall we. First and foremost in my mind is his choice to play defenseman Jeff Petry and give him top minutes. This was a gamble to be sure, you never know how a defenseman will react in that situation and after stumbling a little at first Petry excelled. I also thought he did well with guys like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ladislav Smid; as all three players excelled this season. Devan Dubnyk who struggled at first started to excel under Renney as well after the All-Star break when he got more playing time. Let’s not forget that the Oilers power play was among the top in the league and the penalty kill had greatly improved, both had been among the bottom of the league the year before. All of this can be attributed to Tom Renney in a positive fashion and are several good reasons as to why he should have been kept on as a coach.
Let’s look at the not so good now. Renney had some strange ideas for line combinations particularly in the bottom six (lines three and four). His choice to sit guys like Darcy Hordichuck or Ben Eager confounded me, especially in games where we obviously needed an emotional boost from a physical play or a fight. Playing Nikolai Khabibulin when he was obviously struggling, particularly later in the season after the All-Star break when Dubnyk obviously could have played annoyed me to no end as it did many Oilers fans. Then we get to some of his defensive choices, the amount of ice time he gave to players like the often injured Ryan Whitney, or Theo Peckham or Cam Barker.
So there you have it, some examples of the good and the not so good of Tom Renney coaching the Edmonton Oilers. I think he deserved at least one more season to continue his work with the young kids on the team. The fact that it was Steve Tambellini that made the announcement would seem to indicate that he is getting that extension that was “announced” months ago. Nothing official has been announced of course, but I expect it won’t be too long until it is official. This also could have been handled better by the Oilers organization as a whole too; waiting this long after the season is over wasn’t right or fair to Tom Renney. So now the wait begins as the Oilers begin their search for a new head coach, who will it be? I don’t know I just hope we don’t take Brent Sutter; he didn’t do well in Calgary in my opinion and didn’t do much better at the World Championships either.