Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Search Begins

The firing of Craig MacTavish means one thing for sure: the Edmonton Oilers will have a new coach next year. As such, I thought it would be interesting to evaluate various coaches that might be under consideration. As Jonathan Willis points out in his debrief on the firing, we should probably be looking at people that (1) have some NHL experience, (2) are still coaching a playoff team somewhere, (3) are outside of the organization and (4) have some rapport with Tambellini already. I'd say that any coaching candidate should have at least two and more likely three of these criteria to be under serious consideration.

The first candidate I'll be looking at is Pat Quinn. Quinn fulfills three of the four criteria (he's not coaching a playoff team anywhere) which is pretty good. First, let's take a look at his NHL experience. In order to do this I'm going to compare Quinn's performance at the NHL level with the coaches that immediately preceded him and the coaches that immediately followed him. The idea here is that the situation in terms of players is similar enough to give a reasonable gauge of the coach's performance. The idea comes from the Contrarian Goaltender who used a similar system in trying to determine the effect of Pat Burns' coaching style on goaltending. Pat Quinn has been hired and fired five times each which gives us ten different situations to look at. If he was replaced midway through a year only that year's results are included. If he was replaced after completing a season, the next season's results are included. This gives us the following snap-shot:

The non-Quinn coaches are Mike Murphy (2 times, 120 games), Rick Ley (2 times, 114 games), Bob McCammon (3 times, 112 games), Tom Renney (1 time, 82 games), Paul Maurice (1 time, 82 games) and Roger Nielson (1 time, 28 games). There looks to be a real difference here between Quinn and the other coaches. In fact, out of the ten comparisons there isn't one where the replacement coach is decisively better. This is a pretty impressive record of past success. His last NHL coaching job came in 2005-06 so it's not as though he's far removed from the game. If NHL experience is important to Steve Tambellini, Pat Quinn passes the test.

The other criteria are all easily addressed. Pat Quinn is not coaching a playoff team, he is from outside the organization and he will be familiar to Tambellini from their time together in Vancouver when Quinn was the coach and Tambellini was the Director of Public and Media Relations from 1990-1996. Quinn and Tambellini also worked together with the gold-medal winning Canadian Olympic team in 2002 where Quinn was again the coach and Tambellini was the Director of Player Personnel. The two were together in the same roles for the World Cup in 2004 and the Olympics in 2006. They are certainly familiar with one another and worked well enough together that Quinn was chosen for three consecutive best-on-best tournaments.

Quinn's reputation is that of a coach who relies on an attacking forecheck, but who is generally not considered a particularly good tactician. It would certainly be a change from the style used by the Oilers this past season which was generally quite passive. As an added bonus, Quinn has connections to the Edmonton area, having played for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 1960s. The biggest downside is that the man is really old. Seriously. I think there is a good chance that Pat Quinn could be the next coach of the Edmonton Oilers and I don't think it would be a bad choice.


Coach pb9617 said...

Quinn isn't a bad suggestion. My candidate pool would be Sutter, Dineen, Capuano, Fitzgerald, and someone through out Constantine as well. Always liked that guy. Though, Jagr will never happen with him in Edmonton :)

Of course, if Ruff is fired, it's all moot. Ruff is the guy.

Scott said...

I'll be taking a look at a lot of different guys over the next while, mostly people that fit the criteria that Tambellini threw out in his press conference. Quinn has a lot of those and a good track record. He may not be my ideal choice, but he does seem like a good choice and that's really all we can hope for I think.

Black Dog said...

I don't know - I saw Quinn a lot here in T.O. and those teams usually relied on lights out goaltending to win. When they didn't get that - pffft.

Teams were agressive but undisciplined. Not a lot of accountability for veterans who took bad penalties (perfect!).

Not great with the kids, imo, although I guess he would not have a choice.

Rick Ley is his defensive coach and most leaf Dmen under his tutelage showed remarkably poor grasp of fundamental defensive hockey. Seriously.

Teams always came to play though and certainly played a pleasing style.

An old style guy for sure - believes players, as pros, don't need him to coddle them.

I would say he's not a good fit.

Scott said...

That jives with other things I've heard about Quinn Black Dog. I think he would be similar to Ron Low in terms of style which I'm fine with. Teams that skate hard and hit everything are entertaining to watch if nothing else. The dependence on veterans is a bit unnerving but I think we'll get that with almost any coach we bring in. I don't think he's the best option but I'd much prefer him to some of the other options (Crawford!).