Editor's Note: As the season winds down,OilfanInYYC's FanPost looks at whether Tom Renney is the right coach for the Oilers.
Over the past 3 years, 1 as assistant coach and 2 as head coach, Tom Renney has helped lead this team to two consecutive 30th place finishes and is currently on pace for a 29th place finish. To add insult to injury this year's 29th place ranking is actually closer to the 30th place team we've seen in years past than it is to a 29th place team.
At this time in the 2010-2011 season the Oilers had a record of 23-35-8 (54pts) and in 2009-2010 they had a record of 20-38-6 (46pts). This year's rendition of the Oilers have a record of 25-33-6 (56pts) which is only 2 more wins than last year and 5 more wins than in the 2009-2010 (injury season). One can argue that this lands squarely on the shoulders of Tambellini but I have to argue, although Tambellini hasn’t given Renney all of the pieces he would like to have, Renney still has enough pieces to win. The problem isn’t that Renney doesn’t have the bullets it’s more so that he’s using those bullets to shoot himself in the foot repeatedly.
Renney seems to try to fit pieces together that make no sense being together and tries to force the issue no matter how much it doesn’t work.
Example #1 Eric Belanger & Magnus Paajarvi:
For the better part of the first half of the season we saw Paajarvi relegated to the 3rd line with Belanger. At the beginning of the season this line appeared to be promising but failed to produce. In theory it makes sense place a historically 20 goal scorer with a high shooting young player. The problem is that their style of play did not complement eachother but rather hurt performance. In spite of this glaring problem this line stayed together game after game until it was determined that the problem was the young player and he would be relegated to OKC.
Example #2 Sam Gagner:
Gagner has had a relatively good season but it took a while for him to take off and that didn’t really happen until he was moved back to centre and given the ice time and line mates needed to help produce.
Example #3 Cam Barker:
Tom Renney has preached time and time again "The only currency a coach has is ice time". How can a coach back this up when a player like Cam Barker is inserted into the lineup time and time again and is given more ice time over 60 minutes than Hemsky, Hall, Gagner, RNH and Eberle. I understand that Barker is a defenseman but players like Sutton and Peckham who both have a Relative Corsi numbers better than Barker are getting less ice time over 60 minutes.
Example #4 Lineup Changes:
After an October that saw the Oilers go 7-2-2 the team would lose 2 of their next 4 and the lineup changes would begin. Obviously things were going to change at some point but a continual juggling of the lines would see the team go 18-31-4 in their next 53 games. Renney has put players in positions that they should never be in (ie. Petrel in top 6, Belanger on the point in PP…) but more to that point good teams, the ones that make the playoffs, don’t shuffle their lines repeatedly because they know how important chemistry is. Just because a player is playing well doesn’t justify a move to the top line or because a player has hits a rut doesn’t mean they be relegated to 3rd line minutes.
Arguments about age and injury have been legitimate arguments in the past but need to stop being used as a scapegoate. The Oilers aren’t the youngest team in the league and although some key injuries have occured the injuries are nowhere near what they have been in the past. Teams younger than the Oilers are performing better, teams with more injuries are performing better and in many of these cases with less talent up front. So this is not the issue either. The only other constant on a game in game out basis has been Tom Renney and change is needed sooner than later. The team needs to perform a proper search for a coach, they cannot rely on any member of the current coaching staff as a replacement candidate either because Renney is the one that has picked them. The coaching staff needs to be torn apart and the second part of this "Oil Change" needs to begin with a proven coach that can develop this team into a playoff contender.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this FanPost are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of the staff.