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.