MacTavish is out, so where will Oilers turn for replacement?

April, 15, 2009

Lindy Ruff, Barry Trotz and Dave Tippett are still employed, right?

Just checking, because with Craig MacTavish out the door in Edmonton and Jacques Lemaire packing it in with Minnesota, both having put in nine years (eight seasons) apiece with their respective teams, I just wondered if this wasn't the offseason of change for the longest-tenured coaches in the NHL.

Ruff (12 years), Trotz (11) and Tippett (seven) do indeed still have their NHL jobs and, in a twist of irony, together form the coaching staff for Canada's IIHF world championship entry in Switzerland with Ruff at the helm.

Lemaire stepped down last weekend after the Wild's last regular-season game and MacTavish was let go today, although it was clearly a mutual decision. MacTavish is a classy guy; he wasn't going to hang on for dear life. Some of his players stopped listening to him this season and he knew it was time to go. He's a good coach and I suspect he won't be out of work for too long.

In fact, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune quickly jumped on the news today, saying the Wild should take a look at him.

"I know the Wild wants to take its time, but this is somebody it should interview before somebody else snatches him up," Russo wrote on his blog.

The guessing will begin in Edmonton, as well. For my money, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini should take a serious look at former Rangers coach Tom Renney. The two have a past relationship from their days together in Vancouver, where Renney was coach and Tambellini was working his way up the Canucks' front office. Renney, by the way, is good friends with MacTavish. But Renney is an excellent teacher and the Oilers have a mostly young core.

Scott Arniel was named coach of the year in the AHL last week with Vancouver's minor league affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. Tambellini was assistant GM in Vancouver when Arniel was hired as Manitoba's coach. Again, with the young Oilers core, maybe a younger coach?

You'll probably also hear the name of veteran coach Pat Quinn. His name surfaced in connection to the Oilers earlier this season; Quinn and Tambellini worked together internationally with Team Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, 2004 World Cup of Hockey and 2006 Torino Olympics. Those same Team Canada connections also exist between Quinn and Oilers president Kevin Lowe.

How about Marc Crawford as another possible candidate? The former Canucks coach and current CBC analyst worked with Tambellini in Vancouver.

Speaking of guys named Marc, there's also Marc Habscheid, another former Team Canada coach with ties to Tambellini from the 2005 IIHF worlds in Austria.

That's just a start. We're sure the Oilers will look at a long list of names before making their choice.



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