The Edmonton Oilers elected not to renew the contract of head coach Tom Renney, thus fueling the search for a new boss behind the bench. The Oilers would like to have someone in place by the draft, but they aren’t rushing the decision on which man will be entrusted with taking this young team to the next level. The Oilers have a ton of talent, promise and potential, but they have yet to deliver on the ice. There have been a few names bandied about in Edmonton, though it’s still unclear who will ultimately get the job.
Most recently the head coach of the Calgary Flames, many assumed Sutter to Edmonton was a done deal. He’s a guy with a lot of experience who likes Alberta and is open to the idea of coaching in Edmonton. However the Oilers haven’t spoken to Sutter regarding the position, and there really hasn’t been any indication that he is the guy they want. Sutter is regarded as a solid young players coach, leading Canada’s World Junior team to two consecutive gold medals in 2005 and 2006. He had a successful run behind the bench of the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League for seven seasons. He had a brief stint in New Jersey before moving on to Calgary, but didn’t have much success with the Flames.
Currently the coach of the Oilers AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons, Nelson is a logical candidate to take over the big club. But don’t let the success of AHL turned NHL coaches like Dan Byslma and Guy Boucher fool you. There’s no guarantee that Nelson is the right fit for the Oilers, though he has earned his stripes in the American Legaue. Nelson has been with the Barons since 2010, and he led them to the Western Conference Finals this season before bowing out to the Toronto Marlies. He has been an assistant coach in the NHL, with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008.
Currently an assistant coach with the Oilers, Krueger has some experience as a head coach, albeit not at the NHL level. He coached Switzerland’s national team at the 2010 Olympics, as well as overseas in the European Hockey League. When Tom Renney was forced to miss games this past season due to a concussion, Krueger took over in his absence. He’s certainly a strong candidate if the Oilers plan to promote from within.
The head coach of the Saint John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL, Gallant has seen a lot of success behind the bench. The Sea Dogs won the Memorial Cup last year, and were back there again this season, but fell short in the semi-finals. The former NHL grinder would probably be best served starting at the AHL level or as an assistant NHL coach, and he hasn’t expressed a desire to leave Saint-John, but the prospect of going with an up and coming junior coach could be on the radar for the Oilers.
But if the Oilers want to go with proven NHL achievement, look no further than current TSN analyst Marc Crawford. A former Stanley Cup champion with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, Crawford’s last coaching job was last season with the Dallas Stars in 2011. Crawford has the experience and the resume and has expressed a desire to get back behind the bench with a NHL club.