As first reported by Sportsnet.ca, Craig MacTavish is done after eight years as the Edmonton Oilers head coach.
"We’re making a change a far as our head coach," Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini told a press conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, the opening day of a National Hockey League playoff tournament that the Oilers are once again not part of.
"We need a new voice, a new start, new expectations, a new discipline. It’s time to look forward here,” he continued. "This is the right thing for Craig. There was a mutual agreement … from Craig, myself and Kevin [Lowe, the president of hockey operations]. We need to move forward."
MacTavish is under contract for another season. "That is not an issue," the GM said.
Owner Daryl Katz sent a text message late in the season to a member of the home team radio crew that stated “MacT is not going anywhere.” That couldn’t stop the head coach from relieving himself of the post however, after stating during his own season-ending press conference that the team was not the kind of team he liked to coach, and that it lacked size and competitiveness.
He sat Dustin Penner, Robert Nilsson and Kyle Brodziak in the press box for a meaningless Game 82, a statement on what MacTavish thought of their games.
Named the eighth coach in Oilers history on June 22, 2000, MacTavish compiled a career record of 301-252-103 (.537) in 656 regular season games over the course of eight seasons between 2000-01 and 2008-09.
During his final media availability earlier this week, MacTavish acknowledged that toughness was an issue.
"When you evolve from a team that would lay it all on the line and then you try to integrate a bunch of skill, it’s got to be productive," he said Monday. "Virtually all year, we’re trying to get non-confrontational players into confrontational areas where we’re going to score goals. It was a losing battle from a lot of perspectives."
MacTavish also never managed to coax consistent performances from top-six forwards Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. Dustin Penner played everywhere from the first line to the fourth.
Erik Cole struggled before being traded to Carolina at the deadline for Patrick O’Sullivan. Sam Gagner had a poor first half before finding his stride. Robert Nilsson was consistently inconsistent.
Special teams were also a glaring weakness. The power play finished 23rd in the league. The penalty killing was 27th. Both were big factors in a home record of 18-17-6 — only Toronto, the New York Islanders, Atlanta, Colorado and Tampa Bay had fewer points at home.
with files from Canadian Press