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

May 17, 2012, 5:14 PM EDT

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Tom Renney AP

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.

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