Renney takes over as Oilers coach
EDMONTON, Alberta -- Tom Renney figured he would become head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. He just didn't think it would happen so soon.
Pat Quinn was removed as coach of the Oilers on Tuesday after his team finished with the worst record in the league in his first season.
"It's not my decision," Quinn said on a conference call from Toronto. "I had been looking forward to coaching the team next year. A decision was made. They'll have a place for me to continue to help them make their changes, which I will move to."
Quinn was assigned to the front office as a senior adviser. Edmonton was 27-48-8 with Quinn behind the bench, 33 points below the playoff cutoff in the Western Conference.
He was replaced by his assistant, Renney, who will be running his third NHL team.
"This is a move I would not have made without Pat's blessing," Renney said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "The move is certainly in keeping with the process [general manager] Steve Tambellini and I spoke about a year ago when I was offered the associate coach position, although a little earlier then expected."
Renney has coached the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. He now inherits a team whose 62 points were just two points more than the franchise low, set in 1992-93. Edmonton won just 18 games at home and nine on the road. The team hasn't made the playoffs since reaching the Stanley Cup finals in 2006.
"We are rebuilding, there is no doubt about that," Renney said, "but teams have met with success quickly in the past because of sound decisions at the top and people doing their jobs all the way down the line. We want to be an example of that."
Tambellini said Tuesday it was important to speed up the Oilers' succession plan involving Renney and Quinn.
"We spoke last year about bringing these two men in with a wealth of experience in winning, teaching, credibility and leadership," he said. "When you look at a plan that was in place when I discussed with Pat before he came here as far as a succession plan, the idea, for me, was that after Year 2 I would ask him to take this position as senior hockey adviser."
But Tambellini said after such a poor season he decided make the change now.
"Obviously, with what happened this year, in regard to the depth of our organization, the fact that we're rebuilding the Oilers, the fact that we're going to be young, it made sense to me over the last couple of months when I'd been thinking about this and how we want to do this, our plan is basically being accelerated by one year," Tambellini said.
Quinn seemed to be caught off-guard.
"Any good management group has a succession plan," Quinn said. "I'm aware of the fact that there should be a plan in place. As far as whether or not they told Tom he was going to be the next head coach, I don't have any knowledge of that.
"All I said to Steve at the start was don't just play it as an interim coach, as far as I'm concerned, because you're going to waste the year or two years. I felt that if you come in as an interim, that's what you get. If the organization recognizes that, and I mean the players, then it's tough to hold their feet to the fire when it really counts," he said.
Quinn replaced fired coach Craig MacTavish on May 26, 2009. It was Quinn's first head coaching position since being dismissed by the Maple Leafs in 2006. Now he will shift within the organization's hockey operations department.
"Is it a promotion? I'd say not," Quinn said. "My career has been coaching and that's why I wanted to come back into the game with Edmonton last year. We went through some tough times, but I was looking forward to continuing to help to change the climate there and continue to help this organization go back to respectability in the sense of winning. I'll continue to do that, but it's just going to be in a different capacity, obviously."
Renney becomes the 10th head coach in franchise history. Before joining the Oilers this season, he spent five seasons as the Rangers' coach and was fired in February 2009. Renney said Quinn had "set the compass" for where the team needs to go.
"He's made it very clear where we have to improve ourselves," Renney said. "I love that fact that Steve, as we discussed a year ago quite honestly, has continued to identify with this plan and kept true to that template, if you will."
Many thought the Oilers might compete for a playoff spot this season. Then came season-ending injuries to goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, Ales Hemsky, Sheldon Souray and Ladislav Smid, putting the lineup in constant flux.
The Oilers had neither the experience nor depth to compensate. Khabibulin, the team's major offseason acquisition last summer, made only 18 appearances before being sidelined by a back injury that would require surgery. Rookies Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk were forced to carry the load.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press