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Pat Quinn is about the join the Edmonton Oilers as their new head coach. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP File Photo)
Pat Quinn is about the join the Edmonton Oilers as their new head coach. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP File Photo)

Quinn gets Oilers' post Add to ...

He had received a couple of coaching overtures since the Toronto Maple Leafs let him go three years ago, but it was never quite the right fit for Pat Quinn.

Until Tuesday.

Quinn rejoined the man he once mentored in the NHL - Edmonton Oilers' general manager Steve Tambellini - as part of the NHL team's new restructured coaching staff. Quinn becomes the head coach; Tom Renney, who received his NHL coaching start with the Vancouver Canucks, will join Quinn's staff as an associate coach.

"For both of them to be sitting at this stage ... I'm extremely grateful," Tambellini said at an afternoon news conference.

Kelly Buchberger is the only member of Craig MacTavish's staff to stay on; the others, Charlie Huddy and Billy Moores, will be re-assigned within the organization.

MacTavish was fired following the season after eight years at the helm.

Tambellini said there is a possibiilty of adding a fourth member to Quinn's staff at a later date.

Quinn, in addressing the assembled media to a smattering of applause, thanked Tambellini for the "opportunity" to join the organization. He started in hockey playing junior for the Oil Kings in the 1960s and says he is fully aware of the place hockey has in Edmonton's history.

"Tradition is important to this organaization," said Quinn, "but I'm looking forward to the future obviously. I think we have a real terrific opportunity to create a team that hopefully - not even hopefully - because we're here to help this team win."

Quinn said he and Renney have worked together before and would "complement" each other on many different levels.

"We think there's talent here," said Quinn. "We're hopefully here to make the next steps."

Quinn added: "Hockey's been my life. I can't think of a better place to continue working ... It's not a job. it's a thrill and a joy to be able to come to the rink. I'm glad I have that opportunity again."

The new regime - designed to lead the Oilers into the playoffs, after missing them for three consecutive years - was unveiled at a press conference in Edmonton today.

"I know there were some long faces when we left off post-season," said Tambellini. "Now, is the first step in guiding this organization to better things - and that's success."

Tambellini said he was looking for leadership, success and credibility in making his hire.

"They are part of a staff that we are excited about. With Pat Quinn, if I think of leadership, I think of Pat. If I think of how you wanted to be treated as player, I think of Pat Quinn. As someone who sets an example morally for an organization, I think of Pat Quinn. I'm very happy he accepted this job to coach the Edmonton Oilers."

Tambellini called it a "luxury" to have two experienced NHL coaches on his revamped staff.

"They have the coaching brainpower to match any that we can compete against."

Quinn, 66, is one of the NHL's most experienced coaches - and bucks a recent trend, in which many untried coaches have received their first NHL opportunities this year. Three such candidates - Todd Richards, Kevin Dineen and Scott Arniel - were also considered by the Oilers, but ultimately did not get the job.

He began his career with the 1978-79 Philadelphia Flyers and also had stints behind the bench of the Los Angeles Kings, the Vancouver Canucks and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Overall, he has been behind the bench for 1,318 games, and boasts an overall record of 657-481-180. Three hundred of those victories came in 574 games with the Maple Leafs.

In Quinn's first six seasons with Toronto, or prior to the 2004-05 NHL lockout, the team made the playoffs every year, twice advancing to the Eastern Conference final.

Overall, Quinn's post-season record is a thoroughly respectable 94-89. Although his teams have never won a Stanley Cup, he did get to the seventh game of the 1994 final with the Canucks, only to lose to the New York Rangers of Mark Messier, Mike Richter and Alexei Kovalev.

"Hopefully, I've grown to be just a coach," said Quinn. "Players' coaches are demanding as well. I demand it of myself. Anyone involved with our team ... we will be setting high standards. We will be pushing, cajoling, teaching as well as we can to maintain and reach those high standards. if that means pushign people in the easy chair - and I don't know that because we haven't researched the players that well - if our veterans have been guys that might put their feet up on the desk once in a while, we'll have to change that.

"Let's face it, cracking the whip, or being the tough guy, that's not my style. I'd rather believe in education ... If, at the end of the day, the direction of our team isn't about team strength ... then i'm sure we'll find people who want to be involved.

"I think we can porvide an enviroment in which our guys can be the best they can be - and what OIlers should be, champions at the end of the day."

Quinn's relationship with Tambellini, his new boss, dates back to the start of Tambellini's 17 years in the Vancouver front office, which coincided with Quinn's arrival on the scene. Tambellini held a number of positions, beginning in media relations, and the two forged a long-standing relationship.

Renney started last season as the New York Rangers' coach but was ultimately replaced by John Tortorella. Renney's best years with the Rangers came with Jaromir Jagr as his go-to player. Although Jagr is committed to playing in Russia next season, he has said that he would consider joining the Oilers, if he ever returns to the NHL. Renney's presence on Quinn's staff will only add fuel to that speculation.

Quinn previously won the gold medal for Canada's senior men's 2002 Olympic team and then again with last year's world junior team. Philosophically, he believes in a free-flowing style; Renney's presence will add a strong technical nuts-and-bolts element, one that could theoretically be a good match.

Overall, Quinn is a safe choice, someone in Tambellini's sphere. It would have required a leap of faith to take a chance on one of the untried up-and-comers, such as Arniel, who is still alive in the AHL's playoffs with the Manitoba Moose.

Richards, an assistant with the San Jose Sharks, is the favorite to land with the Minnesota Wild as their next coach.

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