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A few months ago I did a podcast with Michael from Oilers Live Podcast, he’s always a good chat about Oilers. If you want to give a new podcast a listen I would strongly suggest him, he has guests on from all walks of life that love hockey. While I was his guest, we got to chatting about how the Oilers season was winding down and my thoughts on everything. I was blunt, I wasn’t happy with the way TMac handled things down the stretch and my quote “I’m still pissed at McLellan” became the title of my podcast.
I’m not sure why the Oilers brought back the bench boss this season, they should’ve 86ed him when they cleaned out all of the assistants. However, I think he should update his LinkedIn because I see some similarities happening here that once did.
Here’s my theory, we’re going to see a very familiar situation happen again with the Oilers coaching staff that famously went down back in 2010. Let me refresh your mind, it was 2009 when General Manager, Steve Tambellini brought in legendary coach Pat Quinn. Tom Renney was named an associate coach while Wayne Flemming was hired as an assistant.
The Oilers finished last in the league with a 27-47-8 record, and they won the first of what has become a handful of number one draft picks. In June 2010 the team moved Quinn into a position within the front office while they promoted Renny to head coach.
The Oilers claimed there was a succession plan for Renny to eventually take over the bench and that it was only accelerated because of the disastrous season. Meanwhile, Pat Quinn claimed he had no knowledge of the plan – Oilers and their plans I tell ya!
“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. He didn’t sound happy with the “plan.”
“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.”
Why wasn’t TMac let go last season?
McLellan certainly didn’t have a vote of confidence at Bob Nicholson’s season-ending presser. The man of the famous burger at Rogers Place only seemed to show his face to back his General Manager, Peter Chiarelli and whatever their plan seems to be.
The media and fans ran wild, what would become of TMac? Was he being hung out to dry and who would replace him?! As time ticked away, I suspected that the Oilers management was waiting to see what shoes would drop around the league before making a decision. Eventually, the team decided to show the assistants the door but retained McLellan. The team brought on Glen Gulutzan, Trent Yawney and Manny Viveiros.
Gulutzan is the Renny 2.0
Gulutzan should’ve been given one more season in Calgary this year – in my opinion. The team didn’t implode simply because of him, Mike Smith went down, and a bunch of things were out of Gulutzan’s control. He didn’t expect to be handed walking papers.
“I was, I was,” Gulutzan said when asked if he was surprised during an interview on On Point on Sportsnet 650 radio in Vancouver. “We didn’t have the year we thought we could last year, obviously, down the stretch with some injuries, we certainly could have done some things better. But yeah it was a little surprising to me at the end for sure.”
I’m not sure why the Oilers didn’t just axe their head coach and replace him with Gulutzan. I have a funny feeling that Chiarelli is incredibly committed to that divine plan he has drawn up. In a perfect world the Oilers would’ve totally cleaned house and brought in their man, who I suspect is Gulutzan to take over calling the shots.
Will it happen again?
I’ve seen Tweets where people say that McLellan was handed this roster and that the General Manager should be held responsible. I think that both are to be responsible. What even is Chia doing? Throwing hail marys, it feels like.
The head coach is responsible for working with what he has, it’s incredibly frustrating to watch our head coach turtle and throw out vets. If anything he should be tossing out hail marys on the ice, for example, put Puljujarvi in the top six.
Now I’m not certain here, I just spitballing, but I suspect that McLellan didn’t have a say in his assistants this time around. I strongly believe that the Oilers had a plan in place heading into this season. If things didn’t go the way, they hoped the Oilers would let go of TMac and promote Gulutzan.
Time will only tell if this will actually go down, but I suspect that tomorrow mornings game against the Rangers is a do or die for the head coach if he wants a job.
Do you think this was the Oilers backup blueprint heading into the season? Let me know.