Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pat Quinn survives in Edmonton because of relationships not accomplishments

Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, pushing the timeframe by a year, has eased Pat Quinn into a senior advisory role and installed Tom Renney as head coach a year earlier than planned.  You don't fire friends, you just find them a new job.

Hockey is like a lot of other business, you find employment through your network. And Tambellini and Quinn go back quite a bit.

In 1988, the Canuck GM was Pat Quinn and he hired Tambellini (who had just ended his playing career with Vancouver) as the Director of Public and Media Relations. Tambellini rose through the Canuck organization until he jumped to Edmonton to take on the GM post there.  So essentially Tambellini's career as a hockey executive was kick-started by Quinn.  So obviously there is some level on indebtedness.  

Fast forward to 2006 and Pat Quinn had been dumped as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. After a three-year Quinn was unable to find another NHL coaching job although he did coach Team Canada's Spengler Cup, under-18 and junior teams.  So old his old pal Steve Tambellini comes to the rescue and names Quinn  the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers on May 26, 2009, replacing Craig MacTavish.  However, sensing that the game may have passed by his former mentor, Tambellini also hires Tom Renney as an Associate Coach.  The plan was to slowly transition to Renney and allow Quinn to leave the game with some dignity.  Not unlike the Blue Jays' handling of Cito Gaston. 

Reports after the season said that Quinn lost control of the locker room mid-season, and that Renney and Quinn had different approaches to each game and were not on the same page. Renney, however, is the right guy for this team. He is a players' coach and was able to establish himself as a respected person in the Oilers locker room.  Tambellini was left with little choice but to give the coaching job officially to Renney and find something else to keep Quinn busy.  Of course, Quinn was allowed to resign and save face.

I just hope by network of work associates takes care of me when I'm out there looking for some work.

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