Thursday, May 17, 2012
Who's Next? Or Perhaps Who's Left?
Today was the day Tom Renney was officially told to move on by the Edmonton Oilers, something many felt was coming. Personally, I would have let him go the day after the season ended. Why play the charade up until now? I don't see the benefit for either the Oilers or Tom Renney to do so. Tom Renney had a very subpar year for my standards. His team came out of the gate like gangbusters and he was pushing all the right buttons. And then on one fateful night in November, Ales Hemsky returned to the lineup from injury and the season went to jebus from there. Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger forgot how to check, the defense pairings got mangled into oblivion, and the Bulin Wall took on leaks. The team toughness that was apparent in the first month became more diluted with the return of Ales Hemsky.
With all that said and done, let's have a look at some of the candidates that will get looks. In my mind, it will be one of these 4 gentlemen.
Brent Sutter - Led Calgary to another inevitable 9 place finish and just recently led Team Canada to a 5-0-1 record in the round robin only to lose to Slovakia in the first elimination game. Brent Sutter would find a way to get this team to play tougher, even with all of its pansification, but Sutter isn't enough of an X & O's guy for me to get this team to play winning hockey. Tom Renney ran the vets ragged and I have the feeling Sutter would do much of the same.
Marc Crawford - Has had success with offense heavy teams in Colorado. Preaches very much an attacking style something that would be perfect for the Oilers. Would preach much tougher play, even if his tactics leave you wincing at times (see Todd Bertuzzi). One thing is for certain though, Crawford's teams don't get pushed around. I think Crawford would rely on the kids a lot more than most coaches, something that needs to be strongly considered. Crawford is my personal choice for next head coach as to lead the Oilers to the next step in their evolution.
Todd Nelson - Has had a lot of success this season with the Oilers farm club in Oklahoma City. Nelson's clubs play a very structured games based a lot on strong defenisve play and solid goaltending, something the main club is quite thin at. I'm not sure Nelson is an ideal fit for this club as it would taking a team that is in motion and having it do a 180 in midair and head in another direction. While I do like and respect Nelson's methods, I'm not sure he is the perfect fit for the Oilers at this time.
Derek Laxdal - Has done a bangup job with the Edmonton Oil Kings this season. Has taken a mediocre club and put them in the highest stratosphere in junior hockey. Love the way he gets his team to play with an attacking style off the wings, with the right amount of dedication to defensive play. His teams really pressure the puck something the current Oilers team can excel at. The problem with Laxdal is he may be a bit too green for the gig as of now, and with the amount of greenness on that bench, the Oilers are going to need to rely on someone's experience to get them through the tough spots.