News came down this week that Tom Renney would not be back as Edmonton's head coach. The one-time New York Rangers bench boss will not be back for a third season coaching the up-and-coming Edmonton Oilers.
While the results of his tenure in Edmonton (where he won just over 35 percent of the time), are terrible and the team needed a change, Renney's tutelage has laid the basis for what should be successful careers for a number of Oilers players.
In an earlier piece, I outlined three better known coaching candidates for the vacant position. In the wide world of coaching free agents, there are several other names to consider.
Derek Laxdal, Head Coach, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
With his team in the Memorial Cup right now, Laxdal has surpassed expectations and propelled the team to a WHL title. Laxdal has the ability to work with young players and is known as an offense-oriented coach.
Sam Cosentino, who works as a colour man for Sportsnet, hinted during a broadcast that Laxdal would be considered for the position with Edmonton's NHL club.
Gerard Gallant, Head Coach, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Gallant is currently coaching the defending Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs, a team featuring the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau, Nathan Beaulieu, Zack Phillips and Charlie Coyle. His ability to develop talent has been noted, and like Laxdal, Gallant preaches an up-tempo style.
Gallant was the third head coach in Columbus Blue Jackets history, although he didn't achieve much success with the team. With the Sea Dogs almost certain to lose Huberdeau, Coyle and Beaulieu, and the team's window of opportunity set to close, Gallant may be ready to move on.
Marc Crawford, NHL on TSN Panelist
Crawford interviewed for the position before the Oilers decided to hire Pat Quinn and Tom Renney. He will likely be on the shortlist again. Like the other men listed here, Crawford emphasizes offense.
Unlike the other men here, Crawford has won a Stanley Cup as a head coach.
Dave Tippett, Head Coach, Phoenix Coyotes (NHL)
While Tippett's teams have never had the youth that the current Edmonton Oilers squad is made of, he has proven that, despite major distractions, he can ice competitive hockey clubs.
While it's unusual to put a head coach who made it to the third round of the playoffs on a list like this, remember that Phoenix has finally found ownership under a group headed by Greg Jamieson. Owners like to install their own people in important positions, so Tippett's future with the organization is not clear.
Many feel that the Edmonton Oilers waited so long to announce their coaching vacancy because the team wanted to see if any current bench bosses would be let go. Tippett would bring a defence-first mentality to the Oilers, and a system dependent on strong goaltending and position play.
Pierre McGuire, Analyst, NBC
There are few men who know the game of hockey better than McGuire, who plies his trade for NBC. He was recently a finalist for the Montreal Canadiens General Manager position. He has previously worked in pro scouting for the Pittsburgh Penguins, in addition to being their assistant coach.
He won Stanley Cups with the team in 1991 and 1992, and has experience as a head coach, serving one season with the Hartford Whalers in 1993-94, a team that had former Montreal Canadiens head coach Randy Cunneyworth.
Of these five men, four have head coaching experience in the NHL, with Laxdal being the one exception. Personally, I feel Laxdal will get an interview for the position, but nothing more. His one year of success is not enough, although his team in the WHL will always get him mentioned for open NHL positions.
Gallant has the pedigree to be considered, but it's doubtful he would want to leave his position in Saint John. Tippett should definitely be on the Oilers' radar should the new Coyotes ownership decide to go in a different direction.
Crawford, should he choose to vie for the position, would warrant a long look. McGuire is the dark horse of the race, with few men being more ensconced in the game.
Steve Tambellini has been inclined to go for the big splash. He attempted to sign Marian Hossa following the 2007-08 season, and is known as a player when it comes to free agency. I think that, should McGuire put himself in the running, he will be a top-three candidate for the position.
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