Three years after leaving the organization he led to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, Craig MacTavish is back with the Edmonton Oilers.
MacTavish on Monday resigned his post as coach of the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League to accept a job as senior vice president of hockey operations with the Oilers, the team he coached from 2001-09.
This past season, he coached the Wolves -- the Vancouver Canucks' AHL affiliate -- to a 42-27-7 record, a Midwest Division title and the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs. However, the Wolves were eliminated in the first round by the San Antonio Rampage.
"I enjoyed my year this year in coaching [Chicago]," he told the team's website. "But the coaching part of it is very difficult to go back to a team that you've coached for as long as I'd coached the Oilers. To go back into this situation in spite of the fact that a lot of the personnel has changed over, would have been extremely difficult."
MacTavish also told the Oilers' site he's excited to be back with the organization that fired him three years ago.
"Being on the outside looking in for the last number of years, it sure looks more optimistic and positive going forward," MacTavish said. "The franchise is in a lot better shape than when I left three years ago -- maybe as an exciting a franchise as there is in the game going forward. We've got to make sure we do the right things to continue with the positive vain that the franchise has had over the last little while."
MacTavish spent eight seasons as coach of the Oilers (2001-09), leading them to the playoffs twice, including to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to Carolina in seven games. In 656 games behind the bench in Edmonton, he went 301-252-56, with 47 ties. He also won three Stanley Cups with the Oilers as a player (1987, 1988 and 1990), served as team captain from 1992-94 and was an assistant coach for one season prior to taking over the top job.
"When you've been in one organization for as long as I'd been in Edmonton -- the 10 years I'd been as a player and nine years as a coach, it's tough to wipe that stuff all off," MacTavish said.
MacTavish's role as senior VP of hockey operations is a new one for the Oilers, but the team says he he's expected to be a strong voice in almost all areas of management and player personnel on a rebuilding team that has finished 30th, 30th and 29th in the overall standings in the past three seasons.
"I'm going to be another voice," he said. "In this business, it's all about making good decisions and relying on experiences that I've had over the course of the past 30 years or so at this level. I'm going to add another voice and another opinion to the conversation, and we'll spit out and make the right decisions going forward.
"As much as I know this organization very well, I think the best strategy for me going forward is to observe and add my opinion where I think it could be of value -- but more as an observant for the first little while and just try to get my feet wet at this new job."
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