Craig MacTavish has been coach of the Edmonton Oilers for a generation of players. The season he took over Shawn Horcoff was a rookie, and Horcoff will be 31 in the fall. Doug Weight was 31 when he left Dodge City.
By my count MacTavish ranks 2nd in terms of all-time Oiler regular season games coached (Sather is at 782, MacT will coach number 656 this weekend) and is certainly the most famous coach since the team stopped winning Stanleys.
All of the men who have coached the Oilers since they arrived in the NHL have had ties to the organization. They were either former players or assistant coaches or coached in the minors for a time.
There is a sense (as expressed in a post below by the best Oilers blogger in the business, Jonathan Willis) that new owner Daryl Katz will go outside the lines with the choice for head coach. Willis says “if the Oilers do the right thing (hire a coach from outside the org), we’re not going to note it as the start of a trend.We’ll note it as the continuation of a trend that saw Steve Tambellini, Rob Daum, Jeff Truitt and Rick Olczyk hired from elsewhere.”
These are good points made by Jonathan; after all, Tambellini is the de facto GM and media types are going to great lengths to mention that it was he who made the deadline deals that brought in O’Sullivan and Kotalik. Maybe I’d feel better if they didn’t feel a need to make the point, or maybe I’d feel better if anyone in the organization spent a moment talking about Rob Daum as a quality career coach, or if they weren’t always so eager to allow teams to talk to the Claude Juliens of the world.
I think this offseason is a wonderful test for the “new” Oilers of Daryl Katz. Will they accept MacT’s resignation? Will they make other front office moves? Will they hire one of the “Boys on the Bus” in a managerial role? Will they go after a “career coach” or a “Mark Messier?” Will they hire Pat Quinn? Don Lever? Kelly Buchberger?
Next up: How many wins is a new coach worth?