Tom Renney

Columnist: Oilers can’t procrastinate on coaching decision much longer

Over at the Edmonton Journal, Jim Matheson takes issue with how Oilers GM Steve Tambellini is handling the fate of head coach Tom Renney.

Renney’s contact expires on June 30, along with those of staff coaches Ralph Krueger, Steve Smith, Kelly Buchberger and Fred Chabot.

According to Matheson, the group has been left twisting in the wind for far too long.

The Oilers’ season ended April 7. It’s now May 17. If you start the clock on April 8, the day after the final league game in Vancouver, this is now 40 days Renney has been waiting. There is due diligence and there are other things on a GM’s plate–I get that– but I think it’s disrespectful to keep a good man who has coached almost 600 NHL games hanging this long.

Renney has not talked publicly about his situation since the players dispersed on April 9. Tambellini talked the next day to the media and said Renney was “his coach now.”  He said they would be having a sit-down to talk about the season past and the direction the club would be going in 2012-2013. Have they had such a meeting? I don’t know. I do know that the coaches are still in the dark.

Chief among Matheson’s complaints is that, by not telling the coaches what the future has in store, the Oilers are preventing them from finding other jobs, and there are other jobs out there. Head coaching gigs in Washington, Calgary and Montreal; assistant/associate positions in Chicago, San Jose, Columbus and Long Island.

That said, you can’t totally blame Tambellini for taking his time. The Oilers are entering a crucial stage — this will be year three for Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and (amazingly) year six for Sam Gagner — and after three straight sub-75 point seasons, people want to see results from a series of high draft picks. Ergo, he needs to make the right coaching decision.

Which is why Edmonton might be on the fence about Renney. While you can’t blame the last three years on him, you can’t exactly say he overachieved — something you can say of AHL Oklahoma City head coach Todd Nelson, who has the Barons in the Calder Cup semifinals.

Just throwing that one out there.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: