On Thursday evening, the Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini came out to say that the Oilers organization had decided not to sign head coach Tom Renney to another contract. His current contract is expiring, and the team will be looking at a different coaching candidate this summer, just like the Montréal Canadiens.
This is interesting timing, but it makes a lot of sense for Edmonton. First of all, the Oilers are competing with Montréal, Calgary, Washington, and potentially Vancouver if they decide to let Alain Vigneault go. Since multiple teams are looking for a new head coach, it is important for the Edmonton Oilers to act quickly and not miss out on a potential candidate.
Steve Tambellini cited the reason for dismissal is due to the fact that the Oilers need to be headed in a different direction as an organization now. He said the team needs to "raise the compete level and compete for the Stanley Cup playoffs next year".
Tambellini also felt that, for some reason, his veteran players did not respond well enough. Specifically, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger had dismal seasons for the Oilers. Hemsky scored 10 goals and 26 assists in 69 games he played. Horcoff wasn't much better, scoring 13 goals, 21 assists in 82 games. Lastly, Eric Belanger, who was supposedly brought in to provide veteran depth and versatility on the Oilers scoring lines, put up only four goals and 12 assists on the season.
In salary, the Oilers committed $6.5 million on Horcoff, $5.0 million on Hemsky, and $2.0 million on Belanger. A total of $13.5 million on three veteran players, and they have not met expectations.
Finally, the potential coaching candidates the Oilers could be interviewing over the next few week include:
Current Quad City Mallards coach and GM David Bell. He had been successful as an assistant coach with the Barrie Colts before joining the Oilers organization. Tambellini may look from within, and Bell would be the front and center as a potential candidate to be the next head coach for the NHL team.
Despite the fact that Tambellini spoke to the media saying the process of finding a coach is not urgent, it is a reality that the teams will see a domino effect when a team officially announce a signing of a coach, and that other teams will also learn who's the next guy on their candidate list they wish to hire.
For now, Edmonton fans have another side of the story to be excited about—the Oilers offseason. One that should come as a surprise to nobody that the team will be busy making headlines throughout the summer.
This is Joseph Trenton reporting on the Edmonton Oilers.
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