EDMONTON – The former coach of the Edmonton Oilers says it’s tough to leave a team midway through its rebuild.
But in his first comments after his contract wasn’t renewed, Tom Renney suggested that his focus on the team’s future might have been part of his problem.
“I believe I coached with tomorrow in mind as opposed to today and that might have hurt me,” Renney told reporters Wednesday.
“I really have a vision for the team and felt that, even in some cases at the expense of my own opportunity or existence.”
Renney said he tried to coach with the team’s future in mind.
“You make some decisions that suggest we’ve got to make sure that this happens so that’ll happen down the road. That’s not easy.
“That was the mandate for me.”
The Oilers announced last week that Renney wouldn’t be back.
He had joined the team for the 2010-11 season and finished with an NHL-worst 25-45-12 record. This season the team barely improved with a 32-40-10 record for second-last overall.
Still, Renney said he believes the team has a great future with a nucleus of young players acquired through the high draft picks those bottom-of-the-barrel finishes led to. He just wishes he could stick around to be part of it.
“My reaction to not coming back was one of real disappointment, to say the least,” he said. “When you’re at the front end of the building process, you don’t like to be the guy that’s leaving before you even get to the middle.
“And the fact of the matter is, I think that’s where we are.”
Renney said his former team is still a ways from being playoff contender.
“There’s definitely some work to do,” he said.
“There are some terrific pieces in place, but there needs to be an increase in performance of some of the players that are here that I think is completely within them. And there’s going to have to be some acquisitions.”
Renney said he’d like to keep coaching and that he’s already had some discussions with a number of NHL clubs.
Renney came to Edmonton having previously served as head coach with the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks.
The 57-year-old Cranbrook, B.C., native was fired from the Rangers in February 2009 after three full seasons and 20 games with New York after he took over from Glen Sather, who remained as general manager.
Renney was also fired in Vancouver in 1997-98 after his first full season with the club.
Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini has said he hopes to replace Renney before the draft in June.