Tom Renney

Stop laughing: Tom Renney wants a new contract

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Let me try to soften the edge on the widespread criticisms of the Edmonton Oilers front office by saying that the group has made some rather … curious decisions.

For a team that’s seemingly been buried in the cellar since Chris Pronger’s ugly divorce, you’d think that the franchise would be at the “about fed up” point. Instead, the general feeling is that potential will eventually produce results, which isn’t the wildest notion considering the dazzling skills of Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The stranger course has been the team’s odd penchant for keeping seemingly nonessential pieces in the fold. It was tough not to furrow one’s brow upon word that so-so blueliner Andy Sutton was handed a contract extension. Ales Hemsky’s skills are undeniable, but his conga line of injuries is that much more glaring. Generally speaking, it seems like the franchise is content to “keep the band together” even if their efforts have landed them in the league’s bargain bin.

That context is just about the only thing that explains why current head coach Tom Renney might not be out of his mind when asking for a contract extension.

Even so, it’s pretty stunning to read this account of the situation from the Edmonton Journal, which implies that Renney has some kind of negotiating power in the situation.

I don’t see Renney taking anything less than two years if the Oilers want him back.  If Ales Hemsky is going to get a two-year contract to stay as part of this reconstruction, Renney probably wants at least the same, and why not?  Same with his coaching staff–Ralph Krueger, Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger–whose contracts are also up, unless Krueger, who is widely admired and could get a very good head-coaching job back in Europe in a heartbeat, decides he wants to return there.

I’m sorry, but what exactly has Renney done to knock down the door for a new deal?

The Oilers went 25-45-12 for him last season and they’re currently 26-34-6, with a not-kidding goal of winning 30 games in 2011-12. It’s obviously not fair to lay that all on Renney – GM Steve Tambellini has made some baffling choices, to say the least – but the young team might need an honest-to-goodness difference-maker behind the bench.

Sure, the Oil have been embracing mediocrity with some of their medium-term plans, but even with that in mind it’s hard to fathom Renney making any demands.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.