With the Oilers mired in the depths of mediocrity this season, the calls for the head of coach Craig MacTavish have grown louder.
Canning the coach always is the easy play when a team isn’t meeting expectations. It isn’t always the right play, of course, but it would be completely understandable, if not exactly fair, for MacTavish to be shown the door.
If that course of action is the one Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini wind up taking, who can capably fill the void? More than a few unemployed coaches, actually.
Let’s look at some of the more prominent names available and see if they’d make a good fit in Edmonton.
Pat Quinn Just because Quinn is the senior guy on this list doesn’t mean he might not boost the Oilers’ fortunes. He isn’t a hard-core Xs-and-Os bench boss, but rather a player’s coach unafraid to turn his top offensive threats loose inside an entertaining-but-dangerous game strategy. After dealing with an increasingly ornery MacTavish, the players could thrive under Quinn’s more relaxed approach.
Bob Hartley He’s got a Stanley Cup championship under his belt thanks to his Colorado days, but Hartley followed that up with a so-so stint in Atlanta. He can be at least as testy as MacTavish has been this year, so if the Oilers brass is looking for a more serene atmosphere, they surely won’t find it by bringing Hartley in.
John Tortorella Ditto. Actually, double-ditto. Tortorella’s bark makes Hartley and MacTavish look like the Dalai Lama by comparison.
Marc Crawford Another coach with a Stanley Cup on his resume, Crawford currently serves as an analyst for CBC. I think he’d do well in Edmonton, but only on the condition he avoids signing Dan Cloutier to play goal.
Dave Tippett After Dallas fires him, I mean. Tippett is a great coach currently stuck in a tough situation – and if I were the Oilers GM, I’d wait until the Stars waive the white flag on the season before snapping up his services.
Barry Melrose Har har, hardy har har. I made myself laugh with this one.
This column also appears in the Edmonton Metro newspaper.
Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.