Gabriel Béland interviewed Tom Renney last week and had an interesting, and completely unsurprising, portion on Renney's time with the Oilers:
"I’ve already lost a job because of my values. In Edmonton, I was asked to play young players more who had recently undergone operations. I reduced their ice time ", he says. "But they had to play because they were very good and we were selling hope. But I acted according to my conscience."
For the Edmonton Oilers, asking players to play hurt has been part of normal operations for quite some time. Recall Chad Moreau, after being thrown under the bus by Pat Quinn and Steve Tambellini saying "...sometimes they're treated like commodities." and Sheldon Souray who was asked to come back from shoulder surgery early by "management":
I wasn’t even ready to play when I came here, but it was like, ‘We signed you, you go out and play.’ I hadn’t been cleared to play yet, but I was being questioned by the organization:‘When are you going to be able to play?’
Souray said it wasn’t the training staff applying the pressure; it was "management."
"I got challenged by management on the very first day of my first training camp. The very first day," he said. "They said, ‘When are you going to play?’ I said, ‘I have a six month (shoulder) injury and I’m at five months.’ But I played.
And, of course, there's the Oilers ongoing battle against head injury protocols. From my 2011 column on Ales Hemsky and Steve Staios, Renney himself was guilty:
"He’s had some symptoms before this game and the doctor looked at him and I don’t know what conclusion they’ve drawn."
--Tom Renney, Postgame press conference, January 19, 2001.
And after Steve Staios played a "wobbly" game with an obvious head injury against Montreal in 2010:
Staios suffered a concussion in an October 6th game against Dallas, then sat out a game on October 8th against Calgary. He returned October 10th against Montreal, and I noticed that he looked "off" the entire game. Ireland's story was published on October 12th, and that night he was scratched against Nashville. Staios went on injured reserve for post-concussion syndrome and did not return until November 5th against the Rangers. Staios suffered a concussion, bad enough to miss a game, yet was returned to the lineup immediately after that, concussion and all. Even an Ohio high school realizes the severity of brain injuries and mandates six days until game action:
And of course, recall Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner rushing back early from injury last season.
That Renney was told to give more minutes to injured players is not a surprise. It's what the Oilers do. That the man who has ingrained this mentality throughout the organization is still employed should come as shock to everyone.
Author's Note: Updated translation via bituman, in the comments.